If a restaurant is to be judged by diner turnover, then Marta’s wins hands down. Helmed by the vivacious Marta, whose pride and passion for Spanish cuisine is obvious in the dishes served, this is where you come for a bona fide Spanish meal.
The paella here is regarded as the best in town and there’s a choice of either the classic Valenciana (saffron flavoured rice with a variety of meat) or the squid ink version. Tapas-wise, it’s hard to resist the likes of patatas bravas (fried potatoes with aioli), gambas al ajillo (prawns with garlic and olive oil), croquettes with either chicken and mushroom or ham; and of course, the traditional Spanish tortilla.
Try the pulpo a la Gallega, which is an octopus dish from Galicia perfectly flavoured with pimentón. Marta’s also has the best Pimientos de Padrón (green peppers outside Spain – blistered and simply seasoned with olive oil and sea salt. Part of the fun of eating these is guessing which one is going to be really spicy...but nothing a glass of sangria can’t remedy!
The Signature, 3 Jalan Sri Hartamas,
Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-6411 0832
Photo: El Cerdo
Established by Chef Werner Kuhn in 2005, El Cerdo (which means ‘the pig’ in Spanish) is a longstanding institution of authentic Spanish cuisine and a proponent of the ‘nose to tail’ eating philosophy.
Unsurprisingly, pigs dominate the warm décor just as pork does the menu: you’ll find Iberico spare ribs, Jamon Serrano (Spanish air dried cured ham) and the restaurant’s specialty – roasted suckling pig so tender that you can cut it with the edge of a plate. Great for a different take on slicing a birthday cake!
Besides pork, you’ll also find other Spanish favourites like Spanish omelettes, paella and more. Dishes are substantially portioned and best for sharing.
43 and 45 Changkat Bukit Bintang,
Tel: 03-2145 0511
Photo: Mercat Barcelona Gastrobar
Mercat is popular in the bustling Bangsar area – particularly in the evenings – for their vibrant Spanish cuisine, evocative of the tapas bars in Executive Chef David Caral’s native Barcelona.
Start with platillos (small plates) of traditional favourites like Cordoba tomato cold cream, then continue the tasting journey with Spanish artisanal meats, cheese and marinated olives, tapas like cuttlefish tagliatelle with pork belly or the heftier seafood paellas for sharing.
Wash it all down with Spanish red and whites, cavas beers and more – or pick a naughty dessert like a sangria-infused watermelon to finish.
51, Jalan Telawi 3,
Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2201 5288
Photo: Pinchos Tapas Bar/Facebook
Before the surge of Spanish and Spanish-themed restaurants hit KL, there was Pinchos. At one point, this was probably the only place to indulge in authentic Spanish tapas and it never fails to deliver.
Head here for the extensive list of tapas including succulent jamon Iberico de Bellota (from free-range acorn munching pigs, no less), croquetas de pescado (fish croquettes with garlic mayo) and costillas de cordero (lamb chops with olive oil and fresh herbs). And these are just three must-tries!
Keep an eye on the seasonal specials where produce from Spain like octopus, melon and artichokes get the Pinchos treatment and keep diners coming back for more.
18, Changkat Bukit Bintang,
Tel: 03-2145 8482
Serving up modern and traditional Spanish cuisine, this cosy restaurant and bar on Jalan Bangkung is popular for dates and special occasions. They offer tapas, soups, salads, paella and pasta, along with more substantial mains of steaks, lamb and seafood.
Specialties here include prawns in chilli oil and fried potatoes with chilli padi pesto for tapas, piquillo peppers stuffed with seafood and braised Spanish lamb shank with pearl onions for mains and Crème Catalana – the Spanish crème brulee – for dessert.
While they’ve a respectable selection of vodka, brandy, draught and bottled beer, cider and whiskeys, Cava is proud of their red and white sangria offerings – they even make their own versions of both.
71 Jalan Bangkung,
Bukit Bandaraya, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2093 6637
Photo: El Meson/Facebook
El Meson easily straddles the divide between heartwarming classics and elegant dining, serving traditional Spanish fare among neon lights and wooden tables.
The menu is fairly extensive with tapas, paella, cold cuts, salads and principle plates of pastas, hamburgers and pork knuckles; but what’s really getting our mouths watering are the charcoal oven offerings, such as the slow-cooked sticky short Iberico pork ribs and the grilled Spanish octopus.
For the Spanish National Week, El Meson’s Master Slicer José Martín will demonstrate the art of hand cutting premium Jamón Ibérico de Bellota (cured ham), paired with the Edulis Reserva wine from Rioja. The event will happen on 17 October at their Bangsar outlet and 18 October at their Desa Park City branch.
61-63, Jalan Telawi 3,
Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2282 8290